Not just bears go into hibernation in the winter: In Massachusetts, some staple restaurants of summer shut down for brief interludes, some for weeks and others for months. It’s a sign of light at the end of the winter tunnel when these businesses — from ice cream shops to seafood huts — begin to reopen.
Here’s a look at what’s open and what’s coming back soon.
This guide was originally published on January 25, 2019; it is being updated through the late winter and early spring as more reopening dates are announced, and the date of the most recent update appears above.
The Clam Box
789 Quincy Shore Dr., Quincy, Massachusetts
As of March 1, the Clam Box (not to be confused with Tony’s Clam Shop, just down the street, or with the Clam Box of Ipswich) has reopened for the season. Its vantage point overlooking Wollaston Beach provides a classic backdrop for enjoying piles of fried seafood along with burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and more. The restaurant operates 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with the caveat of weather permitting. “Call if unsure,” the website reads.
The Clam Box of Ipswich
246 High St., Ipswich, Massachusetts
Another Clam Box, located on the North Shore, is open as of February 11, operating Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Serving a vast selection of fried seafood, the Clam Box in Ipswich emphasizes cleaning and filtering its frying oil each day, and its commitment to the routine has made it one of the most frequented North Shore fried seafood stops. Plus, it’s shaped like a literal box of clams.
Gracie’s Ice Cream
22 Union Sq., Union Square, Somerville, Massachusetts
As of January 24, Gracie’s Ice Cream is back in business in Somerville. The shop, named for the owner’s daughter and filled with fun flavors, switched into its full-time, seven-day schedule on March 11, according to a recent installment of the Gracie’s newsletter. This year, Gracie’s has an “ice cream mixtape” series that incorporates new flavors along with stories, and the latest is called “I’m Shy and I Have a Crush on You,” a vanilla ice cream with vanilla cremes, Vienna wafers, and Nilla Wafers.
Hingham Lobster Pound
4 Broad Cove Rd., Hingham, Massachusetts
This family-owned-and-operated establishment has been in business since 1958. It closes for the season each year around Christmas and reopens in March. Now open for the season, with hours posted online, Hingham Lobster Pound slings plates full of fried and grilled seafood, chowders, sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and more.
88 Eastern Ave., Essex, Massachusetts
Keeping to its pattern of opening on the first Friday in March each year, J.T. Farnhams is back in business for the season. From whole belly fried clams and lobster rolls to seafood chowder, J.T. Farnhams keeps to the seafood shack menu and is situated with views of marsh and wildlife to take in during warmer months.
Ogunquit Lobster Pound
504 Main St., Ogunquit, Maine
An 88-year-old seasonal establishment in Maine is reopen for the season as of March 15. The restaurant has a choose-your-own lobster option and has a wide selection of baked and grilled seafood dishes, plus lobster pie, rolls, stews, and bisques. It also offers pasta dishes and a full bar.
Sullivan’s Castle Island
2080 Day Blvd., South Boston, Massachusetts
Castle Island’s famous hot dog stand is open as of March 1, ushering in an early start to the outdoor dining season. The stand sells all manner of fried seafood, lobster rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, and french fries, plus breakfast sandwiches and ice cream.
Cedar Hill Dairy Joy
331 North Ave., Weston, Massachusetts
This seasonal, family-run establishment has operated since 1961, serving a lineup of soft serve, sherbet, sorbet, and raspberry lime rickeys, along with lobster rolls, hamburgers, fried clams, and more. It’s been closed since November and will aim to reopen for the season in mid-March. Note: Dairy Joy is cash only.
Tony’s Clam Shop
861 Quincy Shore Dr., Quincy, Massachusetts
Down the road from the now-open-for-the-season Clam Box, Tony’s Clam Shop is expected to return March 28 and has announced the start of its seasonal hiring. When it reopens, Tony’s will serve beachside broiled and fried seafood, lobster rolls, falafel platters, and more.
Roy Moore Lobster Company
39 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts
This long-running seafood shack typically opens for the season in late March or early April. It specializes in boiled lobsters and offers outdoor patio seating. Stay tuned for an announcement on the specific re-opening day, which will be posted on social media.
The Lobster Shanty
25 Front St., Salem, Massachusetts
This Salem staple reopens each season on April 1 and serves an array of fried seafood, chowders, salads, burgers, and classic entrees like fish and chips, boiled lobster, and baked shrimp, along with spicy crab cakes, lobster Rangoon, and poutine.
The Buffalo Jump
277 Hatchville Rd., East Falmouth, Massachusetts
Brandon Baltzley and Laura Higgins-Baltzley relaunch their Falmouth restaurant on April 12. The duo first partnered with Coonamessett Farm in 2016, running pop-up dinners before eventually establishing a permanent (but seasonal) restaurant in 2017. The Buffalo Jump focuses on Cape Cod cuisine, sourcing from local producers and serving breakfast, lunch, and a kids menu during the day, with a multi-course, reservations-only tasting menu for dinner.
321 Commercial St., Provincetown, Massachusetts
This P-town mainstay will return for its 40th season on April 12; the doors open at 11:30 a.m. Look for the neon sign, and prepare to eat lobster in a variety of ways — ravioli, tacos, egg rolls, arancini, pot pie, and lots more (including, of course, whole). The restaurant features a couple of dining rooms with waterfront views, and when summer rolls around, there will be a raw bar outside the building as well.
12 Federal St., Nantucket, Massachusetts
The Pearl is on track to reopen in late May, in time for the Nantucket Wine Festival. Run by Seth and Angela Raynor, who also own the Boarding House on Nantucket, and known for its salt and pepper wok-fried lobster, the Pearl also serves cocktails and wine.
The Boarding House
12 Federal St., Nantucket, Massachusetts
Right by its sister restaurant, the Pearl, the Boarding House serves a compact menu that features seafood dishes like lobster spaghetti and pan-roasted halibut, plus steak frites, vegetable sides, and crab Rangoon. Just like the Pearl, the Boarding House will reopen this spring ahead of the wine festival.
Barlow’s Clam Shack
856 Scenic Hwy., Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
Located just past the Bourne Bridge, Barlow’s Clam Shack is known for its fried scallops, along with lobster rolls, fried clams, and ice cream. There’s indoor and outdoor dining available, and the restaurant typically reopens late spring.
This guide will be updated as more restaurants reopen or announce a reopening date; email firstname.lastname@example.org with any tips.